Finding the Right Career Path in the Charity Sector

So, you know you want to work for a charity – that’s a great place to start. The hardest part was admitting you needed to make a drastic change, which means you’re already heading in the right direction. But that doesn’t mean working for a charity is the be all and end all of solving your career woes – you need to pinpoint the right job and the right charity to work for. Otherwise, you may find yourself back on the job hunt in a few months’ time.

Now you’ve got all this passion and enthusiasm building up, and you’re ready to dive head first into the job search and share your story with each and every charity that comes your way. So how do you go about finding the right position or career path in the third sector? Let’s take a look.

Finding the Right Career Path in the Charity Sector

Learn from someone else’s journey

First, you need to ask yourself: why do I want to work for a charity? If the answer is simply, ‘to make a difference’, you may need to do a bit more soul searching. Think about all the amazing and influential people who have made a lasting impact on the world. What motivated them? And how did their journey inspire the change they influenced?

Take Michelle Obama, for instance. She didn’t grow up in the lap of luxury. In fact, much of her upbringing and schooling was fraught with adversity. She worked hard to get a top-notch education and make a mark for herself in the legal world, which was why she was so passionate about using her experiences to help turn talented young people into leaders.

So what can you learn from Michelle Obama’s journey from a job that made her unhappy to a non-profit role that ‘felt like destiny’? Find out more in the video below.

Discover which environment is right for you

How much do you really know about the third sector? You want a job that gives something back to the world, but knowing what options are available is really important in finding the right career. In fact, the sector consists of more than just charities. There are also non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community interest companies, social enterprises and voluntary groups. And just because it’s a non-profit, doesn’t mean it’s a charity.

That’s a lot to take in, we know. But if you’re thinking of jumping from the private/public sector to non-profit, working for a social enterprise may be the perfect stepping stone. A social enterprise is a for-profit company that reinvests the money they make back into the community. Basically, it’s the best of both worlds, marrying the lifestyle of a for-profit (which you may be more accustomed to) with the feel-good aspect of a charity. Find out if it’s the right path for you:

Get your foot in the door – become a trustee

Or maybe you’re one hundred percent sure you want to work for a charity. Herein lies the age-old dilemma: you can’t start a career without any experience. True you can spend your free-time volunteering, but have you ever thought about becoming a charity trustee?

It’s a fascinating leadership position and a great way to really get to know the ins-and-outs of how a charity is run. Mostly, because you’ll be the one helping to run it. Trustee boards are always on the lookout for a diverse range of people with a mix of experiences (both personal and profession). Although it’s not a paid position, it’s practical hands-on experience – and it looks great on a CV.

Find out more about the benefits of being a trustee from our interview with Leon Ward.

Make sure you’ve considered absolutely everything

When it comes to the interview stage, hiring managers want to hear about more than just what skills you can bring to their charity. They want to find out what motivates you and connects you to their cause. And they want to see that you’re involved in the charity community. That’s why it’s so important to start building a network and volunteering for causes that truly mean something to you.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at our guide on finding the right route for your non-profit journey.

The next step

Feeling inspired and ready to take on the job hunt? Subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with all the latest tips and tricks about landing that dream 9 to Alive job. We’ve got plenty of content coming, so stay tuned.

Stephanie Dotto

Content & SEO Lead at CharityJob. Lover of fiction, films and food. In a previous life, she was a music and tourism journalist. When she's not writing and editing blog content, she is working on her novel.

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